My faithful readers know that I'm a huge fan of the Betsy-Tacy novels by Maud Hart Lovelace. The series, published in the 40s, recounts the growing up of one Betsy Ray, aspiring writer, who is based on Lovelace herself. The series begins in the late 1800s and concludes with Betsy's marriage at the start of World War I and I can't say enough great things about these books. The early books focus on Betsy's younger years, starting from the age of 5, when she first meets her lifelong friend Tacy. Betsy and Tacy grow up in idyllic Deep Valley Minnesota, a stand-in for Lovelace's own hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. As they grow up, they form a group of friends known as The Crowd, who enjoy many hijinks during high school. Following high school, Betsy takes (on her own!) a tour of pre-WWI Europe before returning home to marry her high school sweetheart. Well-known fans of the novels include Laura Lippman, Meg Cabot, Anna Quindlen, Nora Ephron (look for the Betsy-Tacy mention in her film, You've Got Mail), Judy Blume and Nancy Pearl, to name a few. There is a national society, The Betsy-Tacy Society, which is dedicated to Lovelace's works and to maintaining her legacy which you can join here.
I'm thrilled to announce that this summer the Society is putting on a national convention in Mankato. Speakers at past Betsy-Tacy conventions have included Anna Quindlen and this year Meg Cabot is set to speak! Attendees will be able to tour Betsy's and Tacy's real-life houses, enjoy ice-cream at Heinz's ice cream parlor, take a visit to Murmuring Lake and more! There will also be side trips to Laura Ingalls Wilder country nearby. For those interested in the convention, visit the official website here (there are even Betsy-Tacy hotel discounts). I've found two Facebook groups dedicated to the series so far, if you know of other groups out there, please spread the word about the convention!
If a trip to Minnesota isn't within your means this summer, but you're a fan, please consider supporting the BT Society. These tough economic times have hit the society hard and they're unable to proceed on their work to maintain the mortgage on and update Betsy's and Tacy's real-life homes, which, amazingly, they were able to purchase so that fans can visit Deep Valley and enjoy the entire BT experience. If they can't pay the mortgage, Betsy's house won't be there to visit! There are three ways that you can help:
1) Join the BT Society. Membership in the Society (an annual membership starts at $15) gets you a subscription to the Deep Valley Sun newsletter. A lifetime membership gets you a hardcover copy of the out-print book Winona's Pony Cart.
2) Purchase a commemorative paver to go outside of Betsy's house which you can have engraved with your own message for $80. Stones purchased now will be laid before the convention so you can see it in place!
3) Help to Burn the Mortgage on Betsy's House. The house was saved from demolition when the Society bought it in 2001, and now they need help to pay it off to eliminate a huge monthly cost. You can help for as little as $100 (though there's no limit!) and as a donor, your name will be included on a plaque. Donations are also tax deductible!
And to help encourage you, if you do either of the above three things, you'll be entered to win a set of the younger Betsy-Tacy books (Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown) now and a set of the older books in the series (chronicling Betsy's high school years, her trip around Europe and her marriage) when they are reissued in 3 volumes in Fall 2009. If you do one of the above three things AND you spread the word on your own blog, you'll get two entries into the drawing!